Review: Home Made Summer by Yvette van Boven

Home Made Summer Home Made Summer
by Yvette van Boven

ISBN-13: 9781617690150
Published: May 14, 2012 by Harry N. Abrams
Received at Book Expo America 2012

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In a small change of pace, I wanted to take a look at a cookbook today! Now, cookbooks are a funny thing for me because I don’t love to cook. In fact I often try to avoid it and always end up making the same kind of meals over and over again because they’re easy, quick and simple. But I love to bake and I love cookbooks. I always look through them and dream about all the meals I’ll make and then…never do. Home Made Summer has taken me 8 years to review for precisely that reason. I picked this gorgeous cookbook up at BEA 2012 because during an initial flip through the pictures were beautiful, the recipes well laid out and I saw some foods I thought I’d love to try. At home, the book ended up on a shelf and wasn’t touched. Why? Seafood. A lot of seafood. Many of the main course recipes call for some form of seafood and I don’t eat fish. Or shellfish. Nothing from the sea. I didn’t dive deeper into the book, until this year (thank you quarantine) when I was cleaning out my recipe books and decided to browse this one again before deciding if I should donate it. I’m so glad I did (and didn’t donate!).

Peach tartMany of the main course recipes still intimidate me, either because of their use of seafood or some more obscure ingredients that I feel must be more prevalent in European grocery stores than Canadian ones, but the desserts – oh the desserts! Remember how I just said I don’t like cooking, but I love to bake? Oh I love to bake, and this cookbook has some beautiful sweet recipes in it. First up was the peach tart. This is honestly the most simple pie I have ever made. No pie pan needed, no finicky crust or complicated filling. All you need is a food processor, peaches, sugar and a pan. The crust is made directly in the food processor and chilled for half an hour. The peaches are sliced, mixed with sugar and left to sit for half an hour. Then you roll out the dough, pour on the peaches, fold up the sides of the dough and bake. So simple! And amazingly delicious. I have a new pie crust recipe now! This one is perfect. I’ve included a picture of my second tart, with some sprinkled icing sugar on top (and served with vanilla ice cream). Just made my third peach tart tonight! As my fiance said after the first one: “We could have been having this the whole time we’ve lived together? What other cookbooks are you hiding?”

Strawberry ShortcakeThe second recipe I tried is one of my all time favourite desserts: strawberry shortcake. I love strawberry shortcake so much. I like it with biscuits, I like it with pound cake, I like it as a cake, I just like it all ways. So of course I had to try Yvette van Boven’s version. And it’s my new fav. The biscuits (scones) are slightly crunchy on the outside like a traditional tea biscuit but the inside is almost like a cake. They are delicious! Served with whipped cream and sugared strawberries this dessert is a must have for any BBQ, party, Friday afternoon – you know, whenever. I’ve made this twice so far this July. This recipe is simple as well; the dough uses a food processor and the strawberries are just sliced and mixed with sugar. I wish I had thought of using a food processor for simple doughs before this; it’s a time saver.

My fiance wants to try the beef stew recipe, and I’m excited to attempt the pumpkin fritters. So while I haven’t found a ton of recipes in this book to try, the breakfast and cake sections, as well as the drinks, have some winners and there are a couple mains that I think are worth an attempt.

As for the layout of the book itself, the pictures are beautiful and the anecdotes that accompany the recipes are fun. I did find the background colour of some of the handwritten recipes hard to see – for example the strawberry shortcake recipe is “handwritten” on a dark red background with black font. For someone with bad eyesight like myself, it’s a bad combination. I wrote it onto a recipe card so I wouldn’t strain my eyes each time I want to make it. Some of the recipes have very small, crowded font, like for the eclairs and macarons. Overall, this is a beautiful example of a cookbook, with a fair range of recipes. Especially if you enjoy seafood, vegetables and cake. And who doesn’t like cake?


Review: Heartfelt Letters from Santa by Veronica Christine Steck

Letters from Santa Heartfelt Letters from Santa
by Veronica Christine Steck

ISBN-13: 9-780989-915625
Publication: October 2013 from St. Nick’s Publishing
Source: JKSCommunications

The magic of Christmas for children is embodied in Santa Claus. This book shows you how to capture that magic by writing a personal letter from Santa for the child or children who are special to you.

Letters from Santa can describe situations your child has been in, recount good deeds he or she has done, make suggestions for improving behavior, and generally inspire your child in positive directions you see for them.

The finely crafted companion volume is where you will write this special letter each Christmas Eve, after your child has brought their book of Santa’s letters to its honored place near the Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, the whole family can gather around as your child discovers what Santa has written just for them.


Heartfelt Letters from Santa by Veronica Christine Steck and the accompanying My Letters from Santa Through the Years is a very neat non-fiction book about beginning the tradition of Santa replying to your child’s letter to him.

Now yes, if you send a letter to Santa in the mail you usually get a reply (at least you do where I live) but they are fairly generic and can only really make reference to what the child wrote in their own letter. Through this book, Veronica Steck has outlined a way to let your child(ren) receive a personalized and sincere letter back from Santa. She talks about how to introduce the concept to your child(ren) and then provides samples of that very first letter from Santa and sample sentences to get you started, from praise, accomplishments, spirituality, family, encouragement and everything in between. She even provides ideas for gentle reminders and ideas for how to “be good” in the upcoming year.

The back of the book is a journal of sorts for parents to keep track of significant moments during the year that they can then make mention of in the letter from Santa, while the accompanying book is where the letters will be actually written – a book from Santa, just for this purpose. The layout of the book is done very well, and is quite easy to comprehend and follow. I love the samples she gives, as I am a person who always struggles to get voice and tone when trying to write as someone else. She even talks about how to word your letters for different age groups, and growing up as Santa along with the child(ren).

I really like this idea and will definitely have to remember it for when I have children of my own. It’s a small tradition, but one that can be very significant for a child. I know I always loved those generic letters from Santa. I personal one would be so much more exciting.

Review: Lipstick and Bangs by Colleen McKie

Lipstick and Bangs Lipstick and Bangs
by Colleen McKie

Publication: November 23, 2012 from Fierce Ink Press
Purchase through Fierce Ink Press

Colleen McKie brings readers back to her high school days in the early 90s with Lipstick and Bangs. It was a time of change in which she began to diverge from the interests of her lifelong friends to become an alt rock music girl with a bookish affinity for Stephen King.

Lipstick and Bangs is the true story of navigating identity at an age when everything is weighed against the pressures of friendships and boys.

In the crush or be crushed world of teen dating, can she be true to herself when she’s unsure of who that person really is?

Lipstick and Bangs by Colleen McKie is the second Fierce Short from Fierce Ink Press that I have read and I continue to enjoy these little snippets of creative non-fiction. Partial proceeds from the purchase of this short will go to AIDS PEI.

I definitely remember high school as a time when I was figuring out who I was, dated a few boys and formed my core group of friends (some I still talk to, some I don’t). Lipstick and Bangs was a wonderfully written short story telling of a time when the author is discovering her identity and maybe moving in a different path than those she’s close to. I really enjoyed the frank way Colleen wrote about her dating (mis)adventures and the self-discovery that came from them. I think this Fierce Short is one quite a few teens and adults will be able to connect with.

Review: Fierce Short – Love You Like Suicide by Jo Treggiari

Love You Like Suicide
by Jo Treggiari

Publication: October 9, 2012 from Fierce Ink Press
Purchase through Fierce Ink Press

Set against the backdrop of the 1980s California punk scene, Love You Like Suicide explores the dark side of growing up. Author Jo Treggiari writes frankly about a period in her youth when she was addicted to drugs and living in a derelict neighbourhood.

After a near-fatal accident, Jo is determined to clean up and start a fresh, new life. But there’s one thing she can’t leave behind: a tender friendship, on the brink of being lost forever.

Love You Like Suicide is a gritty, true account of an adolescent who struggles against the odds to make a better life for herself.

Love You Like Suicide by Jo Treggiari is a Fierce Short – a creative non-fiction piece published through Fierce Ink Press in which twenty percent of all proceeds from sales will go to Heartwood Centre in Halifax. Each Fierce Short author choose their own charity.

Though told in the format of a fictional narrative, Love You Like Suicide is non-fiction, a fact which makes the story even more powerful. Detailing a rough and gritty look at a time in the author’s teen years when she was addicted to drugs, this short will at once break your heart and give you hope. Though the circumstances that lead to a life change are not ones to wish for – a near-fatal accident and a tragic death – the creative short still presents a sense of strength and determination in the narrator in regards to living her life differently.

Love You Like Suicide is an incredibly well-written, creative non-fiction piece that shows some of the tougher sides of growing up, loving, and learning.

Review: The 2012 Book Blogger’s Cookbook by Christy Dorrity

The 2012 Book Blogger’s Cookbook
by Christy Dorrity, forward by David Farland

Publication: May 2012 from Dorrity Publication
Rating: 3.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it

Great books, bloggers, and recipes meet in this second volume of a fresh and unique cookbook that helps you experience books, not just read them. This year’s volume features even more tasty reads, recipes and book bloggers.

Books were selected from the author’s book review blog and paired with delectable recipes like “Caramel Crack” from Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi, “Everliving Soup” from Brodi Ashton’s Everneath, and “Jagged Ham” from Elana Johnson’s Possession.
Mouthwatering photos complement every recipe.

The 2012 Book Blogger’s Cookbook includes a foreword by David Farland, award winning, New York Times Bestselling author, and showcases more than one hundred reviews with links to book review blogs and author websites.

Whether you’re a food lover, an avid reader or a book blogger, there’s something for you in The 2011 Book Blogger’s Cookbook.

The 2012 Book Blogger’s Cookbook by Christy Dorrity is such a neat idea. If you follow me on twitter, you know my love for baking, so a cookbook that combines my two favourite things – reading and food – is definitely a good thing.

Christy has combined twenty-two young adult/middle grade books with recipes suited for each story. Each recipe consists of a picture of the book cover, synopsis, explanation for the chosen recipe, photo of the finished product and then the recipe itself (ingredients and instructions), and blurbs from book bloggers about the book. The recipes range from meat main dishes, to sweets, breads and even a drink. I will definitely be trying out some of the desserts (like the Beignet Chess Squares associated with Gypsy Knights by Rhett and Lafe Metz and the Wind-Whirled Ice Cream Cake associated with Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon). Unfortunately, no matter how good the meat main dishes look, I won’t be trying them since almost all of them contain a pork product, which I don’t eat. I may be able to substitute chicken or beef, though, and still have them work out. However, if you’re less picky than I am and do eat pork, these recipes sound and look really yummy!

While a cookbook on its own would strike my interest, I really enjoy that the recipes are attached to books. Not only do you get some great food ideas, but new book ideas as well! There are a few books found in The 2012 Book Bloggers Cookbook that I have yet to read and they have definitely caught my attention. The blurbs from bloggers really help to get an idea of the books being showcased. Now if only I could get this in hardcopy so I can take it into my kitchen and start baking. I’ve been craving ice cream, so ice cream cake sounds good right about now!

E-book provided by Christy Dorrity in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

This post is part of The 2012 Book Bloggers Cookbook tour. Please see Christy’s Website for links to all the tour stops!

About the Author
Christy Dorrity loves to read about cooking and cook about reading. She was taught early to have a discriminating taste for both books and food. Christy grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming. She taught elementary school and lives in the mountains with her husband Devon and their five young children. When Christy’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Find Christy
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